exploring the republic of Užupis - Lithuania

Monday, March 24, 2014

Interesting fact: there is a neighbourhood in Vilnius (the capital of Lithuania) that has declared itself an independent republic. The Republic of Užupis.

A short walk from the city centre I visited this creative, artistic community on my most recent travels. Užupis literately means 'on the other side of the river' - and to enter the neighbourhood you must cross over one of Europe's many love-lock bridges from central Vilnius.

Entering the republic of Užupis - Lithuania

As well as having it's own constitution, Užupis also has four laws that all residents and visitors must abide by - as demonstrated by the icons on it's sign as you enter:
  1. Everyone must be happy and always smiling
  2. Speed limit of 20km/h
  3. Everyone must be an artist or appreciate art
  4. If you don't abide by the above the residents have the authority to push your car into the river (!)

Walking into the republic of Užupis - Lithuania
walking into the republic of Užupis, across the love-lock bridge

The neighbourhood itself was a lot of fun to walk around, with art of all kinds around every corner. A photographers dream. And definitely a great place to visit if you're after some creative inspiration. Here are a few of my favourite pieces...

Mermaid statue - the republic of Užupis - Lithuania

Mermaid statue. This rather scary looking statue is not actually fastened to this spot - and apparently falls down every so often. To fasten would be to tie down her 'free spirit' so to speak.

Table and chairs on roof art installation - the republic of Užupis - Lithuania

Rooftop table and chairs - the perfect spot for some coffee and a view of the republic. Although you can't actually sit on/at this installation apparently in summer it's quite common to see people up on the roof enjoying a drink with the view. Note the wire underwear in the foreground as well!

Signs - the republic of Užupis - Lithuania

Humorous street signs. Someone is obviously an apple fan. Pity, I quite like bananas.

Mural of Užupis' flag - Lithuania

A mural of Užupis' flag - which is a white background with the palm of hand. There are four different versions of the flag depending on the season, where the palm emblem changes colour. Winter - blue, Spring - green, Summer - yellow, Autumn - red.

The constitution of Užupis - Lithuania
me, taking a photo of the constitution of Užupis 

The constitution of Užupis, made up of 39 articles and three motto's - Don't Fight, Don't Win and Don't Surrender. The constitution is proudly displayed on a long wall in the suburb - and translated into many languages. All in all, I think if people could actually live by this the would would be a very happy place. Some of my favourite articles included:
  • Everyone has the right to hot water, heating in winter and a tiled roof
  • Everyone has the right to be unique
  • Everyone has the right to love
  • A dog has the right to be a dog
  • A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in time of need
  • No one has the right to violence
  • Everyone has the right to celebrate or not celebrate their birthday
  • Everyone has the right to not to be afraid.

Statue of Saint Bernard of Montjoux, the republic of Užupis - Lithuania

A statue of Saint Bernard of Montjoux - the patron saint of alpinists, climbers, skiers and backpackers!!! Can't believe I've never come across this guy before. If you look closely he's wearing a backpack and seems very prepared for the next adventure. Saint Bernard was a French monk who founded hospices in the Alpine passes and looked after travellers and the poor.

Street art, the republic of Užupis - Lithuania

I particularly liked this wall painting for it's cleverness. How many faces can you see?

Cat, the republic of Užupis - Lithuania

One crazy, mad cat :)

View of Vilnius, Lithuania

After a few hours of wandering around Užupis, taking countless photographs and getting my passport stamped at the local government (ahem pub) I climbed up a hill to take in a fantastic view of Vilnius.

All in all, a great day. And just another example of what a creative city Vilnius is. If you want to find out more check out my other Vilnius posts:

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  1. I'm a US expat and I currently live in Vilnius. I visited Uzupis a few weekends ago and it is great. I love being able to see Vilnius as a tourist through your posts!

    1. Thanks Elizabeth - glad I am doing Vilnius justice. It really was such a great city to visit!

  2. Love all those city laws and rules!

    1. I know right! 'A dog has the right to be a dog'. So true :)

  3. This city really is inspiring!! So unique and beautiful, too.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Miwa. Vilnius was such a surprise - completely blew my expectations out of the water!

  4. Now I am curious to find out if Saint Bernard of Montjoux is the namesake for the St Bernard dog breeds that are well known for mountain work.

    1. I wonder! Make sure you let me know if he is :)

  5. I have GOT to get back to eastern Europe! This sounds like my kind of place. I especially liked this part: "A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in time of need." Ha! Thanks for linking up again for Travel Tuesday. :)

    1. Hi Megan - I know - I'm sure every cat would be pleased to live by that :)

  6. What an incredibly interesting place to visit - sounds like my kind of place!

  7. Lithuania has been on my radar to visit in the past couple of years. I love that they've declared themselves independent. I wonder how the government feels about that. All the signs are in English, do they use that instead of Lithuanian? I'll definitely have to check out Uzupis when I'm in Vilnius. Thanks for linking up to #SundayTraveler! See you next week!

  8. What a fabulous place to write about - not exactly on the must see list of those stupid buzz feed lists. LOVED IT! Thanks for linking up with us - see you next Sunday!

  9. Hahaha ... Užupis looks like a really fun place to visit. Love the rules! So creative ... Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler. Can you please add the badge or link back to any of co-hosts? Thanks! Hope to see you next Sunday.

  10. Wow, I never knew any of this but now I'm dying to go! This is great! Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler - I hope you'll come back next week :)

  11. Cool! I never knew any of this. What a neat post. Prague also has a bridge similar to that.

  12. I lived in Vilnius for four years and every time i come back i can find something new here still! Such a lovely town. But I think it`s most beautiful in late spring or early autumn:)